Hockey is one of the most physically demanding games on the planet. Players need coordination to skate and handle the puck, strength to withstand thunderous body checks, and explosivity to capitalize on scoring chances. Those lacking in any of these areas will soon find themselves stapled to the bench.
The most effective work-outs for hockey players combine weight training and traditional endurance training with focused off-ice training that builds in-game skills.
Off-ice Coordination Exercises
No hockey player can be effective if they can’t handle the puck. Of course, getting time alone at the rink is cost-prohibitive for many, but there are numerous ways to build puck handling skills away from the rink.
The best way is to get a home training system. It replicates the way the puck slides on the ice, so a player doesn’t develop bad habits like they may when they practice on concrete.
Hitting the Weights
Whether they’re shielding the puck from a defender and powering toward the goal or boxing out an opposing forward in front of their net, hockey players need to be strong. This kind of strength is built in the gym.
Skating is hockey’s most important fundamental skill, so players should start by targeting their leg muscles. Squats are the most effective leg workout, but players should also perform lunges and calf raises to target specific areas.
The bench press is the go-to upper body workout. While it’s important, building a strong back and shoulders will help a player more than bulging pecs. Lat pulldowns and shoulder presses make it easier to fight through body checks and add velocity to shots.
The best hockey players have world-class stamina, but it’s different from the kind of stamina marathon runners have. In a hockey game, where the average shift is only about 45 seconds, explosivity is key.
Instead of simply running for long periods of time, try working short wind sprints into the workout. It’s easiest to do this on a track, where one could jog on the curved sections and sprint the straight sections.
Performing bodyweight exercises like bear crawls and box jumps with elastic bands is also a great way to build explosiveness.